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Bear is unexpected company near Lake Wildwood

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Even after living in Nevada County for more than two decades, Sally Martinez was shocked when she saw her first bear hanging out in her neighbor’s tree.

“I didn’t believe her when she told me,” Martinez said. “But I went over there to look at it. It was very big. It had a big old head.”

What appears to have been a black bear was spotted Friday afternoon about halfway up an estimated 60-foot tree off John Born Road near Penn Valley.



“He stayed up there for about three to four hours,” Martinez said. “It was up there for the longest time.”

“A bear’s whole mission in life  is to eat for nine months, make  cubs and sleep,”
— Janice Mackey,
Department of Fish and Game information officer

Martinez said her neighbor, who asked to remain nameless, phoned the police and animal control about the bear, but officials only intervene if a bear is being destructive or a danger, said Janice Mackey, an information officer for the Department of Fish and Game.




When the bear eventually came down, it headed toward Martinez’s property, she said, before vanishing from the area.

“I was worried about mountain lions before, but now I have to worry about bears,” Martinez said. “Now I am going to be double cautious.”

Experts advise the best thing to do with a bear in a tree is leave it alone.

“Give them distance to get down from the tree,” Mackey said. “Eventually he’ll come down.”

This time of year, roughly two months before typical hibernation, Fish and Game sees a spike in bear reports, Mackey said. This is right around the time they begin to prepare for the long winter, she said.

“A bear’s whole mission in life is to eat for nine months, make cubs and sleep,” Mackey said.

There are approximately 30,000 black bears in California, Mackey said. Males, which are larger than females, can weigh as much as 250 pounds,

For folks living in bear country, such as Nevada County and the larger Sierra Nevada, Mackey advised following the advice of Fish and Game’s Keep Me Wild section of its website — http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild — to mitigate the risk of bear encounters.

Some of the advice includes not leaving animal food outside to attract bears, including pet food, cleaning grills thoroughly and storing food indoors in odor-free and air-tight containers. If necessary, procure a bear-proof trash container.

If you encounter a bear, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to appear as large as possible, Fish and Game recommends.

Electric fencing, motion-detection alarms, sprinklers and lights can help for extreme bear problems, Fish and Game spokeswoman Carol Singleton told The Union Sept. 24,

The key is to make your home an unpleasant place for bears to visit, she said.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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